Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Almirall says comparing SMART designs will increase treatment quality for children with autism

Thompson says America must "unchoose" policies that have led to mass incarceration

Alter says lack of access to administrative data is "big drag on research"


Knodel honored by Thailand's Chulalongkorn University

Susan Murphy to speak at U-M kickoff for data science initiative, Oct 6, Rackham

Andrew Goodman-Bacon, former trainee, wins 2015 Nevins Prize for best dissertation in economic history

Deirdre Bloome wins ASA award for work on racial inequality and intergenerational transmission

Next Brown Bag

Monday, Oct 12 at noon, 6050 ISR
Joe Grengs: Policy & planning for transportation equity

Reynolds Farley photo

The New Census Question about Ancestry: What Did It Tell Us?

Publication Abstract

Farley, Reynolds. 1991. "The New Census Question about Ancestry: What Did It Tell Us?" Demography, 28(3): 411-29.

In addition to specific inquires about race and Spanish origin, the censuses of 1980 and 1990 included an open-ended question about ancestry, which replaced the question about parents' place of birth that had been used since 1870. This paper examines findings from the new ancestry question from the perspective of measuring ethnicity. The question adds little information about Hispanics, racial minorities, or recent immigrants, who can be identified readily on the basis of other census inquiries. The ancestry question allows us to characterize the descendants of European immigrants, but because of ethnic intermarriage, the numerous generations that separate present respondents from their forebears, and the apparent unimportance of ancestry to many whites of European origin, responses appear quite inconsistent. In regard to these groups, we may now be in an era of optional ethnicity, in which no simple census question will distinguish those who identify strongly with a specific European group from those who report symbolic or imagined ethnicity.

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next